Sneak peek: Arkansas
AUBURN | Auburn’s 2019 football schedule begins with a big non-conference matchup, includes a long road trip in September, three more in October and ends with two huge rivalry games at home.
Today, we continue an early look at each opponent with a second-straight road trip.
WHO: Arkansas (2-10 last season, 0-8 SEC West)
WHEN: Oct. 19
WHERE: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (76,000)
SERIES: Auburn leads 16-11-1 (AU leads 7-5 in Fayetteville)
WHAT’S NEW: Defensive line coach Kenny Ingram was hired in February after serving as Auburn’s Director of Player Relations for the previous two seasons. Ingram coached the defensive line at Arkansas State 2012 and Cincinnati from 2015-16.
WHO TO WATCH, OFFENSE: SMU graduate transfer Ben Hicks worked under Chad Morris for three years with the Mustangs and will bring a lot of experience and system knowledge as a senior and Arkansas’ projected starting quarterback this season. Hicks is SMU’s all-time leading passer with 9,081 yards and 71 touchdowns.
WHO TO WATCH, DEFENSE: Senior De’Jon Harris is one of the SEC’s best middle linebackers. He was named second-team All-SEC last season after totaling 118 tackles, 62 solo, 9.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks, five pass breakups and one forced fumbles.
OUTLOOK: Auburn will have an off-week to prepare for a team that’s still in the process of a major rebuild. The Razorbacks, however, should be more potent on offense this year with the addition of two graduate transfers at quarterback, the return of two quality running backs and five of their top six receivers including one of the SEC’s best tight ends.
Hicks will have to compete with Texas A&M graduate transfer Nick Starkel for the starting quarterback position. Starkel, who still has two years of eligibility remaining, arrived at Arkansas this summer so he still has a lot of catching up to do with the offense.
Rakeem Boyd and Devwah Whaley are both quality SEC running backs, but Boyd is a potential difference-maker if he can stay healthy. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry and was also third on the team with 23 receptions.
Tight end Cheyenne O’Grady caught six touchdown passes last year and has the potential to play on the next level. Mike Woods is the top returning receiver but Morris brought in some talented receivers in the offseason including two true freshmen that should play right away in Trey Knox and Treylon Burks.
The offensive line is still a work in progress with two starters returning. Notre Dame transfer Luke Jones will likely start at center.
The defensive line is led by senior McTelvin Agim, who is projected as a fairly high draft pick in 2020. He had 45 tackles, 10.0 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries last season. The Razorbacks have a good amount of depth on the defensive line and return six of their seven top linebacker including Harris so the front seven on defense should be a team strength.
The secondary returns three starters including safety Kamren Curl, who is a key team leader.
AUBURN CONNECTION: Ingram had two stints as a staff assistant at Auburn. Arkansas senior wide receiver Jimmie Stoudemire spent a year as a walk-on at Auburn before going to ASA College in Miami, Fla., and then Riverside (Calif.) Community College. He joined the Razorbacks in 2018 but didn’t catch a pass last season.
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